Assessing the impacts of phenotypic plasticity on evolution.
In the past decade, there has been a resurgent interest in whether and how phenotypic plasticity might impact evolutionary processes. Of fundamental importance is how the environment influences individual phenotypic development while simultaneously selecting among phenotypic variants in a population. Conceptual and theoretical treatments of the evolutionary implications of plasticity are numerous, as are criticisms of the conclusions. As such, the time is ripe for empirical evidence to catch up with theoretical predictions. To this end, I provide a summary of eight hypotheses at the core of this issue, highlighting various approaches by which they can be tested. My goal is to provide practical guidance to those seeking to understand the complex ways by which phenotypic plasticity can influence evolutionary innovation and diversification.